RAF News

RAF Lightning F-35B trains with partners in combat scenario in the Bay of Biscay

Lightning aircraft during air-to-air refuelling.

This week, four Royal Air Force Lightning F-35B aircraft from 617 Squadron have been conducting air combat training with NATO and European partners in the Bay of Biscay.  

Two Lightning aircraft in flight.

The exercise, known as OCEAN HIT, was conducted with Greek F-16s; Swiss F-18s; French Rafale and Mirage 2000s.  In total, there were 20 combat aircraft participating, demonstrating the RAF’s ability to integrate with a wide variety of partner nations.

Three Lightning aircraft in flight.

In the scenario, the aircraft were assigned various combat roles.  The UK Lightning F-35B's conducted simulated air attacks, whilst partner aircraft suppressed the 'enemy' air defence systems.  Within the scenario, these simulated attacks were opposed by aircraft who defended the airspace and airfields.

Lightning aircraft during refuelling.

"This has been a demanding but extremely productive exercise, where the Lightning F-35B's have again demonstrated their potency. Working with NATO and European partners in a realistic combat scenario provides an opportunity to integrate complimentary capabilities and learn from each other. In particular, we have learnt some valuable lessons regarding fast jet air to air integration with partner nations."

Executive Officer 617 Squadron

Two Lightning aircraft in flight.

The aircraft were supported by a UK Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton, which provided air-to-air refuelling to extend the duration of the air combat sortie.  

Lightning aircraft in flight.

Following the exercise, all participants exchanged feedback on their respective missions to further develop a shared understanding.  These regular exercises are designed to ensure that NATO and partner nations are fully prepared to respond collectively to any threats.

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